Birth Records Overview
A birth certificate is a vital record kept by the government to track changes in the population. While a birth is typically a momentous occasion in the life of the mother and father, finding an actual birth certificate after the fact is often a challenging task. There is no federal birth certificate so finding birth records in different states typically involves contact the state’s Office of Vital Records.
Although birth records can vary by jurisdiction, most areas require that the name of the child, the place of birth, the sex, weight, the time, the name and occupation of the parents, the name of the doctor and a registration number be included. Unfortunately, many of these birth records are just that—a hand-written record or certificate that isn’t kept in digital format.
Birth records are often necessary to enroll in public school or apply for a U.S. Passport. The official copy of the record is kept by the government, but certified copies can be made for the parent or child.
While you might think that your birth certificate and birth records are of no importance to anyone but yourself, they actual provide vital information about the health of the nation. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) keeps track of this type of information.
Keeping track of birth records can provide interesting results and information. For example, a study of birth and death records can help researchers gain insight on infant mortality. Monitoring these records can indicate if the population of a given state or area is growing or declining. Birth records can also give important information about the birth of multiples, including their size, gestation, birth weight, and number of fetal deaths.
This information provides researchers with statistical data. It can allow them to see if new medical research is helping to improve the life expectancy, help them to determine what medical advancements are needed to help save young infants, or see if certain populations need extra medical assistance. With this information, treatments, funding, and other health programs can be targeted towards those that need them most.